A recovery in the market to Turkey has helped to fuel growth in traffic for Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines this year.
The airline, which primarily operates from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport, increased passenger numbers by 12.5% to 12.6 million for the first half of 2017, including a 19.9% rise in international passengers to 4.7 million.
Guliz Ozturk, chief commercial officer, said: “Despite tough times for the industry and the region, we’re optimistic for the rest of 2017 and forecasting growth following a recovery in demand.
“A strong domestic market in Turkey and growing traffic from all the regions we connect via our hub and spoke model – including Europe, the Middle East, Russia and Ukraine – has meant we’re on track to meet and exceed the targets for 2017.”
Pegasus, which launched scheduled flights in 2005, now has a network of 108 routes including 72 international destinations following the addition this year of services to Abu Dhabi, Odessa in Ukraine, and four Russian cities: Samara, Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod and Grozny.
The next major developments for the airline include creating a second hub at Ankara and switching to an Airbus Neo fleet as part of a move away from using Boeing aircraft.
“We already have the youngest fleet in Turkey and one of the youngest in Europe, comprising 77 aircraft with an average age of 5.8 years,” said Ozturk.
“With the new deliveries, the average age will fall further as we look to create our fleet of the future to improve the experience, drive efficiencies and reduce our environmental impact across the board – a vital part of our strategy to transform travel in our region.” Pegasus is already moving to speed up the switch from Boeing to Airbus aircraft by doubling the number of A320neo purchases this year from three to six aircraft.
The Ankara hub is also developing, with Pegasus now operating 10 domestic routes from the Turkish capital as well as its first international route to Odessa.
The airline’s long-term plan is to turn Ankara into another international hub and it also plans to have a “presence” at Istanbul’s new airport, which is set to open in late 2018.
Pegasus is courting business travellers by launching a Business Flex fare that allows tickets to be changed and cancelled without charge, as well as offering seat selection and a check-in baggage allowance of 20kg for international flights.